“Our fault is not being able to start”… explains Thomas Voeckler after the accident involving his motorbike at the Col de la Loze

The France Télévisions consultant was on the set of the Vélo Club after stage 18, arriving in Bourg-en-Bresse on Thursday.

After the accident at the Col de la Loze, and the traffic jam that forced Jonas Vingegaard or even Thibaut Pinot to dismount on Wednesday, Thomas Voeckler explained himself on Thursday 20 July. Suspended for stage 18, the France Télévisions consultant at the Tour de France was on one of the bikes involved.

What happened on the way up? Have you stalled?

Thomas Voeckler : We didn’t stop. A motorcycle stopped in front of it, a towing car in neutral and also a three-wheeler belonging to the organization. Of course we stopped. The road was narrow, so we didn’t overtake. With the weight of the bike, it weighs more than 350 kg empty, already so many kilometers of uphill and 25 or even 30% slopes, we couldn’t start again.

The public came to help us push, but the runners arrived at the same time. The rider managed to keep the bike from tipping over as people were pushing on both sides. We had the right to be there. We were where we needed to be with respect to the traffic rules behind the race. We couldn’t restart so we were responsible for some riders not being able to restart. So we were sanctioned, it’s normal.

Is it difficult to be sanctioned without being guilty?

Our fault is not being able to leave. We interfered with the race. Good thing Tadej Pogacar hadn’t set out then to overthrow the Tour. Ultimately, there are hardly any consequences because I don’t think Jonas Vingegaard would have returned to the lead. It would have been dramatic if Vingegaard had been in trouble and if Pogacar had 1’30” to spare.

Is there any problem with the public at this Tour de France, different from other years?

I find that there are no problems with the public. Then there may be things to adjust, but it’s not for me to say. There is perhaps a more festive crowd and we won’t complain that there are people on the side of the streets and a rejuvenation of the crowd, who want to party. At the Col de la Loze the road is two meters wide and is not usually open to the public and there are more motorbikes than before. We have cameras everywhere.

I know how the public behaves. Me, what concerned me was the safety of the runners and spectators. If there’s a kid and the 350kg bike falls on him… We’re not just wasting time anymore. When you’re not used to it, it can be impressive. I asked people to calm down and help us. We succeeded, but it was a very complicated moment.

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